Three Months After Capitol Shooting, Investigators Remain Quiet

It has been 90 days since a woman was killed by police near the Capitol, and investigators have yet to release their findings.

A Capitol Police car and a black Infinity after Thursday's shooting on Capitol Hill.
National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
Jan. 8, 2014, 3:59 p.m.

More than three months after an un­armed wo­man was killed in a hail of po­lice gun­fire on Cap­it­ol Hill, her fam­ily’s law­yer is call­ing for au­thor­it­ies to re­lease the res­ults of their in­vest­ig­a­tion, and for Con­gress to use its own powers to look in­to the case. And some law­makers agree.

“While we un­der­stand po­lice shoot­ings must be care­fully in­vest­ig­ated be­cause of their so­cial and polit­ic­al rami­fic­a­tions, by now there should have been a pre­lim­in­ary ana­lys­is re­leased in the pub­lic ven­ue,” Eric Sanders, a New York-based civil-rights law­yer, wrote on his firm’s web­site.

Au­thor­it­ies have been si­lent re­gard­ing any find­ings so far of their re­view of the Oct. 3 in­cid­ent, in which Miri­am Carey, a 34-year-old dent­al hy­gien­ist from Con­necti­c­ut, was killed after lead­ing po­lice in a car chase from the White House with her 14-month-old baby on board.

“I think three months is plenty,” said Rep. Raul Gri­jalva, an Ari­zona Demo­crat, adding that he agrees that it may be time for Con­gress to take its own look.

“It does con­cern me that 90 days — 3 months after the event — we’ve re­ceived no re­port,” said Rep. Hank John­son, a Geor­gia Demo­crat. “We would like to un­der­stand what happened that day.”

John­son ad­ded: “I am con­cerned about a mov­ing vehicle be­ing fired at — at a time when it was known a baby was in the car. There are a lot of ques­tions that need to be answered.”

Rep. Al­cee Hast­ings, a Flor­ida Demo­crat, said, “For something that is that im­port­ant, it would seem to me that the au­thor­it­ies would act ex­ped­i­tiously. I would hope they would make as much in­form­a­tion avail­able as they can im­me­di­ately.”

A spokes­man for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, Wil­li­am Miller, said the in­vest­ig­a­tion is con­tinu­ing, though he could not say when find­ings may be re­leased. “These in­vest­ig­a­tions do take time and are looked at very thor­oughly and care­fully,” Miller said.

Mean­while, an un­spe­cified num­ber of Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficers re­main on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave stem­ming from the in­cid­ent, which of­fi­cials say is the usu­al pro­ced­ure. Of­fi­cials at the U.S. Cap­it­ol Po­lice, Secret Ser­vice, and in both the Sen­ate and House either de­clined to com­ment on Wed­nes­day or said they had no in­form­a­tion to provide.

But Sanders has star­ted to agit­ate for find­ings to be re­leased, say­ing in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day that the only of­fi­cial doc­u­ment he has ob­tained so far is a sworn af­fi­davit that was filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Wash­ing­ton seek­ing a search war­rant for Carey’s “per­son, place and things.”

Sanders also has pos­ted a memo on his firm’s web­site ques­tion­ing po­lice con­duct and ar­guing that the situ­ation was mis­handled.

For ex­ample, the af­fi­davit for the search war­rant al­leges that Carey “re­fused to stop” at a vehicle check­point near the White House and “made a U-turn” and al­legedly began to “flee,” he writes. But, Sanders ar­gues, “Turn­ing around and leav­ing is not vi­ol­at­ive of any laws. The ques­tion is: Why did po­lice pur­sue Miri­am?”

The af­fi­davit also men­tions that a Secret Ser­vice of­ficer ini­tially at­temp­ted to block her car with a bi­cycle rack, but the car pushed over the rack, knock­ing the of­ficer to the ground. It was from that point, after the in­cid­ent at the bar­ri­er at 15th and Pennsylvania Av­en­ue, that the chase began; shots were fired as the car con­tin­ued mov­ing, and Carey was shot to death after com­ing to a halt near the Cap­it­ol. The child is now with her fath­er, said Sanders.

Sanders, a former New York City po­lice of­ficer, says the af­fi­davit shows that “these po­lice of­ficers com­pletely mis­handled this simple ‘street en­counter.’” He also dis­misses the no­tion that Carey’s car it­self rep­res­en­ted, leg­ally, a “deadly weapon.”

“This is ser­i­ous, be­cause nev­er has there been an un­armed wo­man killed [near] the na­tion’s Cap­it­ol, right in front of the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity,” Sanders said in an in­ter­view. He ar­gues fur­ther in his post­ing that if people don’t see a prob­lem with what he calls the “si­lence” sur­round­ing this in­cid­ent, “We as a coun­try are in very ser­i­ous trouble.”

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